View Full Version : Offseason Primer: St. Louis Rams

12-30-2007, 05:40 PM
No one had a more disappointing year than the St. Louis Rams. They came in to the season with one of the best young running backs in the game, a steady veteran quarterback, solid wide receivers, a decent defense and what looked like a winnable division. They also added one of the best tight ends in the game in Randy McMichael.

And no team was affected by injury more than the St. Louis Rams. When Steven Jackson went down, they lost most of their ability to move the ball, despite having a very reliable quarterback in Marc Bulger and three top-notch receiving threats. Throw in some injuries for all of their position players, and you get a 3-13 season (likely, anyway, with Arizona up 24-3 as a write this).

The good news Ė the Rams still have a young, talented running back in Steven Jackson, a capable quarterback, receiving threats and decent talent on defense. So, of all the teams on the lower rung of the NFL, they probably have the least they need to do to get back to competing for a division championship.

So is it time for Linehan to go? That probably is the No. 1 question facing the Rams in the offseason. Itís tough to let a coach go after just two seasons, but after a lackluster 8-8 season last year and a horrible 3-13 season this year, it might be time to cut the cords.

Marc Bulger will still be the quarterback for the Rams. Despite seeing a statistical drop off this season for the Rams, Bulger is still a capable NFL quarterback if he can stay healthy. Likewise, Gus Frerotte, though he is aging, is still a capable backup. Beyond that, Brock Berlin is probably not an NFL quarterback.

At running back, the Rams are set. Steven Jackson, despite dealing with injuries this season will be only 25 years old going into next season, and he still had 947 rushing yards in 11 games, going into Sunday. Behind him they donít have much in Travis Minor and Antonio Pittman, but both are young and should get a chance to play as third-down backs next season. One of the problems the Rams saw this season, however, is that Minor and Pittman A.) werenít as durable as Jackson, and B.) werenít as good on third down as Jackson is. I like Brian Leonard, especially if he continues to accept his role as an h-back type of player for the Rams.

At wide receiver, I think the Rams still have at least another year before they have to start looking at upgrading the position. Torry Holt will be 32 next year, and had 86 catches in the first 15 games this season, heading into Sunday. Heís also one of the most durable wide receivers in the game, having missed just two games in his entire career, spanning the last nine years.

Isaac Bruce is getting older. Heíll be 36 next year and heís struggled with injuries this season, but still played in 13 games heading into Sundayís finale. Heís also been fairly productive for the Rams, hauling in 53 catches for 694 yards. Add in the solid Drew Bennett, and you see that the Rams should be set at the wide receiver position for at least next year.

At left tackle, Alex Barron should still be the starter for the Rams next year. He started in all of the games this season, and is an incredible talent at 6-7, 315. But, he hasnít shown the potential that they expected when they took him with their No. 1 pick in 2005.

Andy McCollum is getting old at left guard, and I wouldnít be surprised if heís played his last game, with him turning 38 before next season. McCollum has also had to fill in at center this year and Brett Romberg isnít the solution at center either, leaving that part of the line vulnerable. I think Richie Incognito is a good, young lineman at right guard, but heís battled injury this year in just his third season. He will only be 25 next season.

Milford Brown and Brandon Gorin are not the solution at RT. Donít be surprised to see the Rams look for some help in the draft along the offensive line, as these two free agents really havenít panned out for them.

The defensive line is probably the best group on the Rams defense. Leonard Little is getting older, and will be 34 next season, but I still think heís a decent defensive end for the Rams. He battled injury this year, but a healthy Little will be a positive for the Rams next season. Personally, I think Adam Carriker is one of the best young defensive lineman in the league. I had hopes that Denver would try and draft him, but he went much earlier than the Broncos picked him. At 6-6, 308, Carriker has the speed to play defensive end and the size to play defensive tackle. He has 29 tackles, two sacks and a safety this season for the Rams, in his rookie campaign.

LaíRoi Glover is still a good option for the Rams at the other defensive tackle, as he has six sacks this season and 36 tackles. However, the one position along the defensive line that may be addressed in the offseason is at the other defensive end spot where James Hall has notched just 2.5 sacks in 14 games. With the Rams being fairly set on the offensive side of the ball, donít be too surprised if they do draft some young players along the defensive line. One option could be Chris Long at defensive end, the top prospect out of Virginia, and of course, Howie Longís son. Long could really bolster that right side of the defensive line with Carriker, and becoming a strength for this team for years to come.

At linebacker, Will Witherspoon and Pisa Tinoisamoa have been great for the Rams. However, at the other linebacker position, the Rams have been atrocious. Donít be surprised if the Rams take a look at some free agents to play that other linebacker position, with guys like Lance Briggs and Boss Bailey being available this offseason.

At safety, the Rams are set, with two absolute ball-hawks roaming the defensive backfield. Corey Chavous had 70 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three pass deflections this season, but he will be 32 next season, and O.J. Atogwe is an under-rated safety, who notched 70 tackles, nine pass deflections and seven interceptions. Of course, part of the safetiesí production came from a lack of production from the strong side linebacker position.

With Fakhir Brown and Tye Hill at the cornerback positions, donít be surprised if the Rams try and look for a cornerback in either the draft or free agency. I expect the Rams to stick with Hill, who was a No. 1 pick in 2006, but Brown hasnít been all that productive at the other cornerback position. Jonathan Wade, a third-round draft pick this past year, may step in at the other cornerback position, but again, donít be surprised if they look to bolster that group.

Jeff Wilkins and Donnie Jones are good kickers and most likely both of them will be around next year, along with Dante Hall the returnman.

The Rams are the biggest head-scratcher in my mind this year, with what seems like decent talent in a fairly mediocre division. The Rams should be able to use their top draft pick to pick up some talent and bolster their talent. They have to hope next season that the injury bug doesnít hit them again.

12-30-2007, 06:12 PM
Good article MissouriBronc.

I thought the Rams were going to be really good this year. Injuries have plagued them though and it was not to be. However I think they have got young talent and I think providing they have a good draft, they could be a good team next season.

I think it's time for Alex Barron to really show up and prove himself. I think the Rams need to bring in a couple of better offensive lineman. Steven Jackson WILL dominate if you give him a half decent offensive line. I also think Marc Bulger will play alot better with a better offensive line.

I agree with you about linebacker and cornerback. They'll need to bring in some new men there.

I think the Rams have promise, look at their performance against the Steelers. They looked really good for most of the game, it's just injuries have stopped them from being able to do that all season.

Great article.

12-31-2007, 01:29 AM
1st thing the Rams need to do is sign Trent Green....
2nd thing, sign Kurt Warner.

3rdly, when Trent Green gets hurt in the preseason (probably from concussion) they need to rally around Kurt Warner and then they will play good football.

Hey, it worked last time they were this bad.